THE number 12 proved both a blessing and a curse for a Nelson Mandela Bay man who spent his first night locked up in a cage for a worthy cause.
Neil Barker managed to raise R12 000 in his first few hours behind bars on Wednesday night, with the temperature averaging 12°C.
Barker is spending 67 hours in the cage outside News Cafe at The Boardwalk as part of his contribution towards raising awareness of the 67 years – including the 27 behind bars – former president Nelson Mandela dedicated to fighting for human rights.
The 30-year-old, dressed in blue overalls, is raising funds for various animal shelters around the city.
Barker entered the cage at 7pm on Wednesday. Municipal spokesman Roland Williams was his first cell-mate.
“It was not too cold and I had people with me till 1am. It was quite busy. I also got a visit from the EP Kings. It started getting very cold by 3am and that is when I pulled over my blankets and I slept till 5am,” he said.
MTR Smit Children’s Haven director Dr Crystal Watson also joined Barker, but was able to secure R4 000 for bail. “I was here in the cold [on Wednesday] from 9pm to 11.30pm. I felt really exposed. But I must say it was not all bad especially because it is for a good cause,” she said.
Barker also had some help, with Bocadillos Bakery and Cafe providing treats and Bliss Hair & Skincare offering hand, neck and shoulder massages to him and every person who spent an hour in the cage with him.
Bliss’s Sarah Will – whose clients bailed her out – spent an hour in the cage. Apart from raising funds for the animal shelters, Barker is also appealing for toys which will be distributed to disadvantaged schools.